Australia’s multiple sclerosis community was saddened recently to learn of the death of one of its great supporters and contributors, John Studdy who died on 16 April 2014.
John Studdy graduated from the University of Sydney in 1952 with a Bachelor of Economics and, while studying, continued to work full-time at the chartered accounting firm now known as PriceWaterhouse Coopers. After a long and distinguished career in chartered accounting (becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia) he accepted his first non-executive company directorship in 1972. Over the following years, he expanded his responsibilities on corporate boards across a wide range of industries and became one of Australia’s best-known chairmen and company directors. He served as chairman or director at more than 30 companies, including high-profile chairmanships at Goodman Fielder, Buhmer Australia Limited, Mercantile Mutual Ltd (now ING), the French bank subsidiary Paribas Australia Ltd, the compliance committee of Westfield Management Limited and Westfield America Management Limited and The Ten Group, where he was Chairman from 1993 to 2002.
In 1979 John Studdy was appointed Chairman of the then National Multiple Sclerosis Society Australia (NMSSA) and under his wise counsel and advice a long period of expansion for the Society began. John was requested to stand for the chairmanship by then President of MS International, Mr Jim Wolfensohn (a US-based Australian investment banker who went on to become President of the World Bank), and Sir Louis Pyke (then Chairman of the Victorian MS Society). John Studdy finally retired as Chairman of NMSSA in November 1997.
At the beginning of John Studdy’s leadership period, NMSSA had started a real focus on research with the formation of the National Multiple Sclerosis Research Foundation and a Medical Research Advisory Board (MRAB) which recommended the funding of MS research projects using a peer review process for each project.
In 1977, NMSSA established a Research Fund that six years later, following a period of sustained growth and development under John Studdy’s leadership and his own philanthropic generosity, became the National MS Research Foundation (NMSRF) and in 2004, MS Research Australia (MSRA).
An early major NMSRF project was a nationwide MS epidemiological study conducted in 1984. This was the first study to show the increase in frequency of MS with increasing latitude in Australia, usually referred to as the MS Latitude gradient effect. It confirmed the gradient pattern found in the northern hemisphere also existed in the southern hemisphere.
In addition to serving on the NMSSA Board, John Studdy was appointed a Director of the MS Society of NSW in 1979 and was President between 1983 and 1998. He was also an Honorary Vice-President of the International Federation of MS Societies.
John deployed his extensive business and political networks to good effect with successive state and federal governments, lobbying tirelessly and succeeding in substantially increasing public funding for the multiple sclerosis community.
John Studdy’s contributions to the multiple sclerosis community in Australia have been honoured by the NSW MS Society bestowing the titles of Emeritus President and Life Governor, by the naming of a multiple sclerosis facility at Lidcombe as the Studdy Centre and in 1999 by Multiple Sclerosis Australia (MSA) through the establishment of the John Studdy Award to acknowledge his many contributions to the MS cause in Australia. This annual award, the highest honour of Multiple Sclerosis Australia, is given to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the MS movement in Australia.
Until recently John also chaired both the Pain Management Research Institute, affiliated with the University of Sydney, and the ING Foundation, which supports a range of charitable groups such as Barnardos.
John Studdy also contributed to the community at a local level as former president of the Palm Beach Surf Club.
In recognition of his significant impact on community health and business in Australia, John Studdy was recognised with an AM in 1988 and, for service to Australia through the media and communications, the Centenary Medal in 2003.
In 2009 John Studdy received the University of Sydney’s Alumni Award for Community Achievement for his three decades of dedicated service to the community, in particular to multiple sclerosis organisations, as well as his achievements as a leading Australian company director.
The Directors of Multiple Sclerosis Australia, the staff, volunteers and everyone associated with Multiple Sclerosis Australia, the five member state MS Societies and Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia join John Studdy’s family in remembering and celebrating with gratitude a life of immense service, dedication, support and contribution to advancing the wellbeing of people living with MS and the search for a cure.
Board of Directors
Mulitple Sclerosis Australia